Wednesday, October 13, 2004

To the Bachelors, to make Much of Time

Anthony Bradley's post complaining about parental expectations for adult children touches on a train of thought that's been running around in my head for awhile, which I will now try to halt at the next station and write down. He's got a point about the brokenness that exists in many parent/child relationships that extends into adulthood. But his post also implies that it's somehow wrong and selfish for parents to hope their children grow up, get married, and have children of their own. (He's probably a bit sore on this point since he's still a bachelor himself.)

My theory runs somewhat opposite: it's wrong and selfish for young people to purposefully avoid the responsibilities of marriage and child-rearing in order to pursue fun, careers, or just because they're too lazy or timid to try. Now before everyone gets up in arms, note the term "purposefully" and the three qualifications on the end. People to whom God does not give the opportunity to marry or have children are not included in this statement; God has called them to something else. People who are giving up or delaying marriage because of a clear call to a ministry that is inconsistent with raising a family (say, constant treks into hostile territory) are also doing fine.

But I suspect many Christians are staying single or childless for the same reason a lot of non-Christians are remaining single or childless: it's easier and more fun. Those are not legitimate reasons. You don't need a special sign or calling from God to marry and have kids. Read Genesis 1:28. Marriage is the rule; celibacy is the exception. It is often a God-given and God-blessed exception, but it is an exception.

I'm going to aim this at guys because it's primarily their duty to take the initiative. Women chasing men isn't pretty (although there are times when standing where someone will trip over you isn't out of place--go read Ruth). A Christian guy who has an education and a job, who finds women attractive and has no specific calling to celibacy, ought to be looking for a wife. If you don't want to be "hunting," you can at least go for long walks in the woods with your gun handy. This is not advocating desperation, which is most unattractive: the goal is not to get married because you're the black hole of emotional need, but because getting married is a good and worthy thing to do.

It's your duty as a human being. To quote Benedict, "Nay, the world must be peopled!" It's your duty as a Christian. What's under attack from Satan these days? The family. The best thing most of us can do right now to advance the kingdom of God is not running around trying to ban gay marriage or change the divorce laws, or even evangelism, but to have good marriages and well-raised children. That's how we can show that the gospel has power.

All right, that's enough ranting. Think I'll go put on a poncho for the flying tomatoes soon to descend.

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